George Couros on the Innovator’s Mindset: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris


CourosGeorge Couros is a leading educator in the area of innovative leadership, teaching, and learning. He has worked with all levels of school, from K-12 as a teacher and technology facilitator and as a school and district administrator. He is a sought after speaker on the topic of innovative student learning and engagement and has worked with schools and organizations around the globe. George is also the creator of ConnectedPrincipals.com, an initiative that brings educators and leaders together from around the world to create powerful learning opportunities for students.

Although George is a leader in the area of innovation, his focus is always the development of leadership and people and what is best for learners. His belief that meaningful change happens when you first connect to people’s hearts is modeled in his writing and speaking.

His book, The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity, was published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. (October 2015).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of George.

* * *
Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Innovator’s Mindset?

Couros: I have wanted to write it for years but struggled with the process. Blogging is something that I have done for the past 6 years, but there is so much more finality in writing a book. If you don’t agree with an idea in my blog, I can easily edit it if I change my thinking. A book seems to be almost like being engraved in stone. That being said, I have seen that in education and other organizations, that we are expecting some technology to come save us, where it is really about how we lead and look at the world in which is truly crucial. This book is not only about developing knowledge, but creating something powerful from it.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

Couros: I think for me as the author, was that this was more a start to a conversation than the end of it. Setting up things like a hashtag to talk with readers about the book has helped me really push my own thinking after the fact, and I have been growing because of these conversations. Growth should not just be for the reader. Also, I realized how when I was writing this book is not for anyone who is in a formal position of leadership, but for those that crave change from any position. We all have the ability to influence others, so this was a way to write a book that would help people that wanted to make school a better place.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ em>significantly from what you originally envisioned?

Couros: I actually think it turned out the way I wanted it to from the beginning. What I wanted to write was a book that was mixed with big ideas and practical ways to achieve them. Too many books are written from a theoretical perspective, or as a step-by-step guide in doing something. This was meant to connect the two. That being said, I love telling stories and think those stories make learning come to life. When I first shared it with publishers they wanted more “case studies” ‘and to be honest, I decided to go in a different direction, or else I would have written a book that I wouldn’t even want to read. Education does not have enough books that bring teaching and learning to life through story, but I am hoping that this book might change that for the future of books in leadership and education moving forward.

Morris: In your opinion, what is the single greatest opportunity to improve the quality of precollegiate education significantly during the next (let’s say) 3-5 years? Where to begin?

Couros: I think that when we help educators see themselves as “school teachers” or even “global teachers”, as opposed to “classroom teachers,” where we only focus on the students we teach that year, it creates a connection to a larger purpose. If we started developing schools where we are starting to see that every child in that organization is ours, we are more likely to work together to create something powerful. Otherwise we will be stuck in “pockets” or “silos” as opposed to developing a complete and cohesive culture.

Morris: Long ago, a weary farmer asked Ralph Waldo Emerson how to transcend an empty stomach. I am reminded of that question whenever I think about all the children who arrive at school with a hunger wholly unrelated to learning. Your own thoughts about this?

Couros: The beautiful reality about children is that every single one of them walked into school on their first day curious, indeed eager to learn. We never had to teach them that. That being said, we start to suck it out of them by stopping them from asking questions in favour of what we want to teach as opposed to what they want to learn. I am convinced that that if a child leaves school less curious than when they started, we have failed that child. We need to stoke this fire in our students rather than extinguish it. Even our smartest students, the ones that do the best academically in school, start to see school as a checklist and learn to play the game of school. The system needs to be changed to fan the flames of curiosity.

* * *

To read all of Part 2 of the interview, please click here.

Here is a direct link to Part 1.

George cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Link to George’s blog, “The Principal of Change”

His Twitter link

SlideShare link

Link to “George Couros at TEDxBurnsvilleED”

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